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Imaging with PET Scans may reveal low-grade inflammation in MS patients

PET scans (Positron emission Tomography) is an imaging technique often used to detect the spread of cancer or changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. A recent publication reports that PET scans can reveal unsuspected smoldering inflammation in patients treated with disease-modifying treatments (DMT).  The existence of ongoing low-grade inflammation may help explain why some patients with stable MRI scans continue to deteriorate clinically. Further, it may help guide physicians as to when to change treatment.


In order to capture the inflammation on the PET scan, the investigators injected a tracer which binds to microglia cells. Microglial cells are the most prominent immune cells of the central nervous system and are the first to respond when something “goes wrong” in the brain.  Greater activity of these microglia cells results in increased atrophy (shrinkage) of the gray matter in the brain. While MS is traditionally a disorder of white matter in the brain, in which the coating of the nerve cells is attacked and damaged.  However, in recent years it has become accepted knowledge that the grey matter (unmyelinated nerve cells) are also affected. The result is cognitive impairment, and worsened motor and ambulatory function, among others, and ultimately greater disability. Before this technique can be used in routine patient care, a larger validation trial is warranted.


BeCare MS Link can also help in detecting clinical change earlier than suspected by patients and their doctors and before it is evident on MRI scans.  The BeCare MS Link App quantitatively assesses the neurologic exam with objective measurements that can be closely monitored for changes over time.

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